Mitchell confident in Burns leadership
Perth Glory coach Dave Mitchell says he trusts Jacob Burns to lead the club into the Hyundai A-League finals for the first time after the Qantas Socceroo was unveiled as club captain last Tuesday night.
Perth Glory coach Dave Mitchell says he trusts Jacob Burns to lead the club into the Hyundai A-League finals for the first time.
Qantas Socceroo Burns was unveiled as club captain last Tuesday night, the 31-year-old receiving the honour despite only arriving at the club last month from Romanian side Unirea Urziceni.
Burns was one of three Australian representatives brought to the Glory, alongside Mile Sterjovski (Derby County) and Chris Coyne (Colchester United), with Mitchell also signing the highly-rated Andy Todd (Derby) and Branko Jelic (Energie Cottbus) as part of an ambitious recruiting drive.
Those five signings have seen opposition coaches like Adelaide's Aurelio Vidmar label Perth a dark horse for the premiership after four seasons in the wilderness following the end of the old NSL, where the Glory once dominated.
But Mitchell said despite the recruiting, he still needed the right person as captain if his side is to translate big names into results.
"I've known him (Burns) and trust him, a long time," Mitchell said on Friday.
"We've got a good relationship, so I understand the animal, so to speak."
"He's a great character, well tempered, and he's just I think all round the right person."
"He's (also) been captain before at his clubs in England and in Europe," Mitchell said, referring to Burns' stints leading Leeds United and Polish side Wisla Krakow.
Mitchell said this experience meant Burns was just as qualified to lead as Chris Coyne or Todd, who have previously captained Colchester United and Blackburn Rovers respectively.
"Chris is a natural leader as well but he doesn't need the armband to be barking orders," Mitchell said.
"We've also got a group of players now, (who) take it upon themselves to motivate themselves, in training and things off the park, which is great because they're lifting the whole standard and that's exactly what we're after."
Mitchell said the club would not employ the AFL-style leadership group it had last year, when skipper Jamie Coyne, the younger brother of Chris, was supported by club veteran Jamie Harnwell and popular French striker Eugene Dadi.
Instead, the coach sees the core group of international signings and club leaders as an unofficial group within a squad led by Burns.
Mitchell said it also hadn't been hard telling Jamie Coyne he wouldn't be captain this season, despite the younger Coyne having shown the way, overcoming several nasty injuries to lead his side through a lean start last year, to the point where the Glory briefly threatened a top-four finish.
"I've made a lot of tough calls since I've been here but that wasn't a tough call," Mitchell said.
"What I wanted to do was make Jamie sure that he was focussing on his game this year and when he focuses on his game (he's very dangerous)."
"Last year, there was a lot of distractions but now he can just do that, focus on his own game."
Despite having a superb pre-season, Jamie Coyne may still enter the new campaign under a fitness cloud after suffering from the flu over the past week.
The virus and a string of injuries prevented Mitchell from fielding his best line-up in a 1-0 loss to Gold Coast United last Saturday.
The coach said he remained hopeful centre-back Todd, the most pressing injury concern, will pull through a back problem in time for the club first official clash with Adelaide on August 7.
Burns himself has struggled with hamstring soreness since playing against Wolverhampton but looks ready to go, although popular clubman Harnwell could miss the first three matches after severely injuring his hamstring against North Queensland.
Meanwhile, Brisbane Roar's defensive stocks for the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season have been boosted with the addition of Scotsman Bob Malcolm.
Malcolm, who has enjoyed successful stints with Scottish Premier League outfits Motherwell and Rangers, arrived in Brisbane six weeks ago and has been trialing with the club since.
Malcolm has played most of his career as a central defender, but it is his ability to play a number of different roles that prompted Roar coach Frank Farina to make an offer.
"(He has been signed on) a one-year deal. Really it is his versatility that we looked at," Farina said.
"We've just got to get him fully fit, he's still a little bit underdone but that's just time."
"We've still got a couple of weeks but he gave 90 minutes on the weekend so that was a good sign."
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"The Mariners are delighted to have finally reached this outcome," said Mariners Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman.
"Nicky is a fantastic young player and will bring a lot of experience with him, following his apprenticeship with our sister club Sheffield United.
"He has been developed at one of England-s top clubs and I-m sure he will be a welcome addition to our squad for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season and beyond."
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